Swim England

A nation swimming

Doctors 'should prescribe swimming to aid recovery from medical conditions'

Swim England has called for the medical profession to be more proactive in prescribing swimming as part of a programme of activity to manage a variety of medical conditions and aid recovery. 

As part of its latest #LoveSwimming campaign, titled Moving Medicine, Swim England has issued the plea alongside inspirational stories of how swimming has helped transform the physical health of a number of people across the country who were suffering from a variety of conditions.

The individuals, who were struggling to cope with arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and chronic pain, were all prescribed swimming to help ease their conditions.

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England said: “Swimming is an ideal activity which can help people manage a range of medical conditions and we are calling on the medical profession to consider recommending swimming to people who would benefit from improved physical health.

“As the government and medical profession increasingly move to prescribe exercise as a conduit to improved physical health, we believe that swimming and wider aquatic activity is increasingly the answer for many people and are calling on health professionals to consider prescribing swimming in ever increasing numbers.”

The #LoveSwimming campaign has been launched ahead of World Health Day on Sunday 7 April.

Evidence shows that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a health professional, yet nearly three quarters of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients due to either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence. (Source: Moving Medicine)

The current Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has called for a “culture shift” and for medical professionals to act on the evidence that activity, such as swimming or long walks, can cut the risk of illness and boost survival from major diseases.

To showcase the physical benefits and the impact of prescribing swimming, Swim England has created three short films which share the stories of individuals who have experienced phenomenal physical health benefits as a result of swimming.

Benefits of swimming have been massive

Steve Wright, 62, is a Type 2 diabetic who was diagnosed nearly a decade ago but had never taken his health seriously. 

After suffering a stroke in 2018, he realised he needed to take action and worked with a medical professional who suggested he try swimming. 

He has seen remarkable health improvements in the last six months, his diabetes is now under control and he’s looking forward to a healthier future.

Treatment for Type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly nine per cent of the annual NHS budget, totalling an enormous £8.8 billion every year. 

With 3.8 million people in England already diagnosed and an additional 200,000 new diagnoses each year, it’s taking a real toll on resource. (Source: Gov.uk 2018)

On his involvement in the Love Swimming campaign, Steve, from Chester-le-Street, said: “The benefits of swimming physically, mentally, socially, have been massive. 

“To be able to share my story and be part of Swim England’s campaign is brilliant.

“If I can help inspire just one person to give swimming a go, I will be absolutely delighted.”

The campaign video series also includes Wanda Stockdale, who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her early 30s and has described swimming as “absolutely life-changing”, and Paul Kirby, who found swimming had a phenomenal impact on his health when his desk-job resulted in a severe back injury and resulting limp.